Stellan Skarsgård: The Swedish Actor Who’s Been in All the Movies

Work & Business

Stellan Skarsgård: The Swedish Actor Who’s Been in All the Movies

Photo: Jonas Nilsson

Stellan Skarsgård has been a popular, beloved and prolific Swedish actor for decades. The six-foot three-inch thespian was born in Gothenburg in 1951 and has been acting since his teens. American viewers will recognize him from his roles in Pirates of the Caribbean, Good Will Hunting and Mamma Mia.

More than just an actor, Skarsgård has proven himself a father for the ages. Like all great fathers, Skarsgård didn’t start out that way. He started as a son who dreamed of acting.

In fact, Skarsgård hasn’t stopped acting since he was a teen. At 16, the 6-3 thespian born in 1951 in Gothenburg left school to pursue his theatrical dreams. The oldest of five children, he was raised by parents Jan Skarsgård and Gudrun Larsson in a home you might call unconventional as there were no rules.

They walked around naked at home, something his visiting friends weren’t used to, and Skarsgård still likes to be nude in his house. He had no occupational aspirations placed on him by his parents, who just wanted their children to grow up and be good people who pursue their dreams. His father wanted him to finish his education but did not force the matter and always encouraged him. All the positive reinforcement began to show when Skarsgård got his first taste of success at 17 in a popular TV series called “Bombi Bitt och jag” in 1968.

Between 1972-88 he was with the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, where he acted in many successful plays while at the same time, made an impression in film roles, including “The Simple Minded Murderer” in 1982 and then with Fred Ward in 1985’s “American Playhouse: Noon Wine.” His stunning performance in “American Playhouse” brought him both a Guldbagge and a Silver Berlin.

He continued to hone his acting chops through the 80s and early 90s with many roles in well regarded Swedish films, including the leading role in the Oscar-nominated film “Oxen” in 1991, directed by Sven Nykvist a world-famous cinematographer.

All this time, Skarsgård was building his family: he isn’t just an actor; he’s father to eight children.

By the time Skarsgård’s first major American role playing Captain Tupolev in “The Hunt for Red October” was set for release, he already had four kids. He welcomed two more kids with his first wife My Skarsgård before divorcing in 2007. A key role in “Good Will Hunting” helped bring more fame.

Stellan has stayed busy over the years, with more than 135 movie and television program credits.

Somehow during his hectic schedule, Skarsgård found time to remarry, play Bootstrap Bill Turner in three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, make an impact in “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo” and have two more kids. Not only that, but his kids already have started making an impact in their own way: You might recognize his son Alexander as Tarzan in Disney’s live-action remake that came out this summer. Between the eight, the kids have acted, produced, modeled, become doctors and most recently, learned to read and count. (Kolbjörn his youngest, was born in 2012).

Check out Skarsgård’s IMDB page for an overview of his numerous roles.

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